New Federal Funds for COVID-19 Wastewater-Based Epidemiology Available; Utilities Encouraged to Participate

May 26, 2021

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently selected Biobot Analytics, a NACWA affiliate member, to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to monitor the presence of SARs-CoV-2 in wastewater on a national scale.

NACWA is encouraging utilities to participate in this federally sponsored program that has no cost to utilities.

This is a 10-week program and aims to cover 100 million Americans across all 50 states and US territories. The associated costs will be covered by HHS, but utilities must first register and participation is limited.

The unique utility benefits of the HHS/CDC program include:

  • Participating in the largest scale genomic sequencing program of wastewater to date to determine the presence of COVID-19 and variants of concern;
  • Providing local data to federal public health agencies on the possible spread of COVID-19; and
  • Receiving access to your utility’s data in a user-friendly format (see Sample Report here) to help contribute to and improve local public health decision making. Reports are expected to be sent within 2 business days of receipt of sample.

Participating utilities will have their data submitted to both CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) portal and to HHS Protect (a White House level data repository). Utilities will have access to HHS Protect where they can view their own data, as compared to the national average.

Importantly, if utilities are already participating in a separate state or local wastewater based epidemiological project, a 150 mL subsample can also be sent to Biobot. Therefore, utilities can both participate in this national program in addition to their local or state wastewater testing program.

Member utilities with questions for Biobot, please contact support@biobot.io. NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, Emily Remmel can also help with questions regarding the opportunity.

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